NASA will pay you 6 figures to protect Earth from aliens

Commentary: A new job opening offers up to $187,000 a year to a Planetary Protection Officer.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

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Alien Abduction

Don't touch them. They'll become contaminated.

Science Picture Co

I understand from the president's Twitter account that almost everyone in America has a job.

Who, though, could resist at least considering a government job that involves protecting our planet against alien contamination?

You see, NASA is looking for a new Planetary Protection Officer

This is someone who will (attempt to) make sure that aliens don't bring their questionable microbes down here and that we don't infect our future overlords -- once President Zuckerberg has retired to his compound on the Moon -- when we go up there.

The job description offers that the successful applicant will be in a privileged position in the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for Planetary Protection. 

This seeks "the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration."

This is clearly an onerous task. Some speculate that aliens are already here and have been for some time. Why, Canada's former defense minister Paul Hellyer insists that aliens would have already given us more of their superior technology, if only we'd stop all our sad little wars.

Still, the qualifications for the job -- which pays between $124,406 and $187,000 a year -- aren't extreme. Well, other than perhaps the "advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection, its requirements and mission categories" part. 

Oh, and the "demonstrated experience planning, executing, or overseeing elements of space programs of national significance" part.

The whole idea of even thinking about planetary protection came from the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

This asked that all parties to the treaty "pursue studies of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter."

This might seem a little namby-pamby for some tastes. Especially as Stephen Hawking has warned that aliens might hate us and could crush us for the sheer fun of it.

Some might also spot a speck of irony in the idea that we're hiring someone to protect alien planets from human contamination, when we're not all that competent at protecting our own planet from complete destruction.

I'm not sure whether that would be a good thing to say in the job interview, though.

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